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Spirits Review: Cokana Vodka

October 26, 2017
Spirits Review: Cokana Vodka | SwineAndSwill.com
By Patrick Gary, Contributor

The story of Cokana Vodka is simple enough, as relayed by the producers. They say that founder and owner Leslie Campbell was traveling and working in Argentina, and there she was introduced to the practice of chewing coca leaves. She and her partner Debbie Chase decided to share the flavor — and, in some ways, the international experience — by combining the two ingredients to create what is believed to be the first coca leaf-flavored vodka.

This creates a unique flavor experience. It is rich and full and lingers; it is a largely unfamiliar flavor, but not unpleasant. It’s herbal and a bit grassy with a hint of bitterness at the end. It’s not unlike the flavor of bay leaves or dried oregano. Cokana is very nice over light ice, although with the addition of a bit of lemon juice or cucumber, it becomes quite a lovely drink.

For anyone worried about legality, as raw coca leaf is illegal in the US, it is legal to use if the active ingredients have been removed. This is made in Portland, Oregon, and is legal to consume.

So, for someone looking for a novel flavor and a distinct, pleasant sipping vodka, I’d definitely recommended Cokana.

Swill & Suds

Spirits Review: Kilbeggan Single Grain Irish Whiskey

August 19, 2017
Spirits Review: Kilbeggan Single Grain Irish Whiskey | SwineAndSwill.com

By Patrick Gary, Contributor

I have been told that every Irishman in the world is a storyteller, and that every story told by an Irishman is true. That said, I’ve also been told about Cuchulain and Fin McCool, so at least in the realms of absolute veracity, there are some “true” stories that are, at the very least, embellished.

A story that I was told recently, that seems to be more truth than legend, concerns the oldest licensed distillery in Ireland. That would be Kilbeggan Distilling Company, in Kilbeggan, County Westmeath. The original distillery made its spirits for 200 years before shuttering the business. However, 50 years later, in 2007, Kilbeggan was able to dust off its small-pot copper stills and start sharing their variety of Irish whiskey.

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Spirits Review: Kimo Sabe Mezcal

June 25, 2017
Spirits Review: Kimo Sabe Mezcal | SwineAndSwill.com
By Patrick Gary, Contributor

A couple of things to start off with if you aren’t familiar with the basics of mezcal: Mezcal is a distilled spirit made from the pina of any one of the 30 varieties of the agave cactus. Tequila is a specific type of mezcal made in a specific region of Mexico from only the blue agave. Therefore, tequila and mezcal are related, but mezcal is not generally designed to be either shot or mixed into cocktails, is consumed generally without salt or lime; is generally meant to be sipped neat; and when it is well made, it is very smooth. That said, Americans like cocktails, and there are mezcals that cater to that taste. There, if you didn’t know exactly what we were talking about, now you know enough.

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Spirits Review: Rum Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva

June 19, 2017
Spirits Review: Rum Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva | SwineAndSwill.com
By Patrick Gary, Contributor

I must admit that when I was asked to review Rum Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva that I was not familiar with the history of rum production in South America. I had always thought of rum as being a Caribbean spirit, with some lovely offerings from Guatemala or the Philippines being worthy outliers. However, as I started researching the distillery, I learned that while Venezuelan rum is new to me, it is not new to the market.

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Give This Coconutty Rum Blend a Shot

May 27, 2017
New Liqueur Goes Nuts with Coconut | SwineAndSwill.com
By Patrick Gary, Contributor

Summer is approaching, and with it comes a craving for a different, more tropical flavor with your food and beverages. Captain Morgan recently released a new creamy coconut-rum blend to enhance your party atmosphere. It is called LocoNut, and it is easily spotted in its coconut-shaped and decorated bottle.

For those who are interested in this as an alternative to Malibu or some other coconut rum, first note that this is something different. It functions fine as a replacement for Malibu, but it really stands up like Amarula or Bailey’s Irish Cream as a very nice drink on its own merits, especially if chilled. More than just the coconut milk, there are hints of cinnamon, cloves and allspice. It has a thicker texture and a fuller mouthfeel. Malibu is a rum that tastes of coconut. LocoNut is closer to a fermented coconut milk that has been sweetened and lightly spiced.

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Swill & Suds

Tasting The Macallan’s Fine
New Whisky, Edition No. 1

April 7, 2016
Tasting Macallan's Finest Whisky Expressions | SwineAndSwill.com

[Ed. note: Our intrepid contributor Patrick Gary was invited to a tasting of The Macallan’s premium expressions with the label’s Ambassador, Jeremy Fonicello. Enjoy Pat’s delicious musings!]

In general, it’s been a good time to be a whiskey drinker recently. In the past few years, consumers have been introduced to innovative bourbons like Ranger Creek’s small-caliber series, Corsair distillery’s Triple Smoke Whiskey and Quinoa Whiskey, High West 36th Vote, Balcones Baby Blue, and even Jim Beam’s Devil’s Cut. Japanese whiskey, especially Suntory Yamazaki, started to gain a reputation as one of the best in the world. Then recently, Crown Royal’s Northern Harvest Rye was rated the best that this planet has to offer in 2016. All the while, Scotch was standing on the sidelines, sticking with making the same things that their patrons love, but holding to tradition instead of innovation.

Seeing their competition gaining on their reputation, The Macallan decided to respond to the myriad challenges with some distinctive, rare, and rather beautiful offerings. No longer resting on their laurels, The Macallan is releasing a collection of new items aimed at different kinds of whiskey and whisky fans.

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Tasting Distinct Texas spirits from IronRoot Republic

September 14, 2015

One of the most interesting things about being a spirits writer is that people always want to know about the most interesting thing is that they’ve never heard of. Some little thing that is really special but that nobody has heard of. However, unlike restaurants or beer, most of the really large liquor companies actually do a pretty decent job of making a good, distinctive product. A beer snob will certainly scoff at a Bud Light. A whiskey drinker is normally fine with Jack Daniels Old No. 7 or a glass of The Glenlivet.

But sometimes there is something really special being done in small batches that the whole world doesn’t know about yet. That is surely true of IronRoot Republic Distilling in Denison, Texas.

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Swill & Suds

Swill Sampling: Ranger Creek Rimfire whiskey

August 12, 2015

Ed. note from Farah: While Swine & Swill is a labor of love for Jerry and I, we’re all about opening the doors to those who want to share their love of all things boozy and porky in this forum. So we’re happy to welcome our friend and very experienced spirits writer Patrick Gary to do some occasional contributing to the blog. Check out his review of San Antonio distiller (and brewer!) Ranger Creek’s single-malt Rimfire whiskey.

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Where to Celebrate Pisco Sour Day in Dallas

February 6, 2015

Get your party hat on, because this Saturday marks Pisco Sour Day — woop woop! The holiday celebrates the classic drink anchored by the Peruvian and Chilean grape-based spirit that’s become a favorite of bartenders in the last couple years. Our favorite iteration is Peru’s Pisco Portón, and, not surprisingly, considering how many events they’ve hosted in Dallas and throughout the state, the brand’s Pisco sour will be featured in specials at some of Dallas’ best bars. Here’s a rundown …

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